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Answered 2009-03-21 01:28:35

DRYWOOD TERMITE CONTROL Orange Oil or Sulfuryl Flouride Richard Fagerlund, Columnist Ask The Bugman Drywood termites are a major wood destroying insect that cost consumers many millions of dollars in damage and control. One estimate suggested Californians spend $250 million dollars a year on this insect. For many years the primary method of controlling drywood termites was to use sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane) as a fumigant. The house had to be wrapped and sealed and the gas injected. It was and still is a major inconvenience for homeowners as they had to do a lot to prepare for the fumigation as well as stay out of the house overnight. It was thought that once the house was cleared that the fumigant would dissipate harmlessly into the atmosphere. A recent study by the U. of C at Irvine has destroyed that myth. It turns out that sulfuryl fluoride is a major greenhouse gas that can last about 30 years in the atmosphere and may last up to 100 years (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121144059.htm). More on this later. Also homes and commercial buildings are built differently now then when sulfuryl fluoride was in its prime. They are more energy efficient which may prohibit the movement of the gas in the building which will allow some termites to survive. There have been other methods of control tried but most only allow spot treatments. Microwaves, heat, cold and electro guns are a few. Heat has actually progressed to where it is considered sufficient to control termites in the entire house. There is a lot of preparation needed for heat treatment and the time and labor cost is reflected in your bill for the treatment. It takes six to eight hours to heat a piece of wood internally to 125° Fahrenheit. In addition, the pretreatment preparation required of the homeowner is extensive and, if not completed properly, heat can be extremely damaging to property, such as plastics, electronics, and many other items. and there was at least one instance of a house exploding because of the heat and propane gas. I can't recommend this treatment. Approximately ten years ago orange oil became a player in the termite control game and a very good player indeed. While there are several kinds of orange oil available to the pest control professional, one brand, XT-2000 stands out. It is the only orange oil formulation that can be used to treat entire homes. The others are only good for spot treatments. Orange oil is unique in that the capillary action of the product works in many ways like fumigation, but without the same risks! XT-2000 Orange Oil moves through wood like a gas, along the path of least resistance, filling up the treated piece of wood until the termites have no place to hide. Unlike fumigation, XT-2000 Orange Oil treatments are specifically targeted to the area of infestation, so you do not need to move out of your home during the treatment. Because of sophisticated optical equipment such as the borescope, inspectors have the ability to located otherwise hidden termite problems and treat them. Since orange oil has come on the scene, over 500,000 buildings have been treated. This includes homes, churches, schools, apartment complexes and assorted commercial buildings. There has been a very low callback rate with this treatment which demonstrates the effectiveness of the orange oil. There are several studies that recently came out that are flawed. One, a Technical Release, by Dow Chemical, manufacturer of sulfuryl fluoride (http://www.askthebugman.com/images/Newsletter/2009.pdf) is terrible. That paper cites a study done by Dr. Vernard Lewis of Berkeley. In Dr. Lewis' study he lists the products they use and where he obtained them. When he gets to XT-2000 (92% d-limenone) he says he got it from Formulated Solutions in Woodside, NY. That isn't possible as XT-2000 is only made by a company in Memphis, TN and a single distributor has all the rights to it. They are Xtermite, Inc from San Diego. I went to Formulated Solutions website, http://www.formulatedsolutions.net/index.htm and they don't mention orange oil of any kind. The third paragraph on their Home page is pretty clear: "Formulated Solutions has the knowledge, creative intensity and manufacturing resources to satisfy your needs. We provide custom chemical solutions for customers in many areas including but not limited to: epoxy, acrylic, urethane, Portland cement, SBR, EVA and PVA". It is apparent that Dr. Lewis couldn't get the real product so he had Formulated Solutions concoct something similar. He then did the study with a counterfeit XT-2000 and attributed the results to the real product. That is like doing a study on Coca Cola and testing a generic cola and attributing the results to Coca Cola. This is very bad science and he should know better. I can't believe the biology department or the university would condone this sort of study. Having seen that statement about where he obtained "XT-2000" early in the paper discredits the whole study in my opinion. I don't know why Dr. Lewis just didn't admit he used a similar product or simply refer to it as orange oil instead of labeling it XT-2000 which it clearly wasn't. This would lead one to believe he had a vested interest in destroying the reputation of a leading competitor to sulfuryl flouride. Who would benefit the most from this misinformation? Dow Chemical and the pest control companies that use sulfuryl fluoride, of course. The Technical Release offers more bad science. A Certified XT-2000 Orange Oil affiliate did not apply the treatment. Clearly the operator in the photograph was not trained by XT-2000, Inc. In fact, the fellow in the photo works for a company that actively promotes fumigation and has a vested interest in putting the orange oil companies out of business (as does Dow). They said in the study that "maximum volume of orange oil was absorbed by the wood". XT-2000 Orange Oil is a contact kill, so maximum volume would mean 100% kill. The only way they can accurately test maximum volume is by using a dye to verify maximum volume was achieved as XT-2000 Orange Oil is transparent. How could it be determined that maximum volume is achieved if dye wasn't used? As for XT-2000, the company that distributes it is very selective as to where it goes. Any company that wants to use it has to go through a vigorous training program first and have annual training updates. Very few pest control products are as vigorously controlled by private industry. Years ago we had DDT, chlordane, aldrin, dieldrin and many other pesticides that were thought to be ideal in how they controlled pests. I have used all of those products myself and I have fumigated many homes with sulfuryl fluoride. As time went by these products were determined to be far more detrimental to use than previously thought and they were eventually removed from use. Sulfuryl fluoride is in that category. It has been used in thousands of fumigations, most of them successfully, but we now know that sulfuryl fluoride is a serious greenhouse gas as noted earlier. The chemical's annual use in California creates emissions equivalent to the carbon dioxide produced by 1 million cars and California accounts for 60% of the sulfuryl fluoride used in the world. If this isn't bad enough they are contemplating expanding its use to farming. I think it is about time that Dow Chemical pulls Vikane off the market. Dow is not a bad company. They have a lot of very good products and services, yet like any company they have made mistakes. They would be doing their customers, society and the environment a service by removing sulfuryl fluoride from use and putting it in the museum alongside DDT, chlordane and the others. Sulfuryl fluoride is the past in drywood termite control and orange oil is the future.

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